Cairns Festival

Cairns Festival is an annual celebration of Tropical lifestyle with 10 days of performances, exhibitions, film and the ever-popular Grand Parade and Carnival on Colllins.

In 2018, Cairns Festival will run from 24 August to 2 September.

Visit the Cairns Festival website for the latest information on this year's Festival and all the events. Please be aware the current year's program is generally announced in July.


Cairns Festival was founded by Cairns Regional Council on 26 May 1961 with the highlight event being the grand opening of a new jetty on Green Island.  This was the same time that the first annual Cairns Tourist Festival was established.

In 1963 the festival was named 'Fun in the Sun'. The Fun in the Sun name and branding remained in place until the early nineties when it was re-launched as 'Reef Festival' to celebrate the city's gateway access to the Great Barrier Reef and diving industry.

It became Fun in the Sun in 1963 and kept this name until the early '90s when it was rebranded as Reef Festival to celebrate the city's gateway access to the Great Barrier Reef and diving industry.

In 2002 Cairns Festival underwent another dynamic incarnation as Festival Cairns in an effort to bring all of the city's key events together under one big, colourful umbrella.  In effect, the impact would cause people to stop and celebrate the spirit and lifestyle of the tropical north while focussing a spotlight on the region as a must-see, destination for domestic and international visitors.

In 2013, Cairns Festival returned to its roots with a focus on engaging the local community and promoting Cairns and region artists and performers.

Last updated: 15 May 2018